Finally get my first order and PayPal immediately shuts me down.

One minute after I finally got my first order (this Saturday Oct 9) in my store, I get an email from PayPal that the money was put on hold because it was a 'significant change in the account activity'. A minute after that an email requesting more information. After I logged onto my PayPal account, I checked and provided all the info they asked of me.
Sunday morning another PayPal email that they are initiating closure of my account. I follow the advice in the email where it says I can appeal and send that in. Today they replied that the decision was for 'security reasons' and that it was irreversible anyway (why tell me how to appeal then??).

I have provided them with all information they requested and it's like you're talking to a wall. They just hide behind the algorithm that for some reason flagged my first incoming payment as a problem and I can never use PayPal again. Which effectively kills my store here, which was only just starting out.

The order that was placed was shipped out this morning, even though I will likely never see the money for it. The buyer had a very good feedback score on the site, so I would be very surprised if that was linked to it, but PayPal refuses to give me any information at all about why I am getting blocked.

Let this be a warning: at whatever moment in time, PayPal might flag one of your transactions, and there is nothing you can do against it. You will just be shutdown and it is very, very frustrating after all the work I put into cataloging the parts. Luckily I had only done about 10 to 15% of that work... no point in continuing now.


  • 31 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • You can accept cards, Bancontact and others via Stripe. But maybe this method is restricted for new sellers - try emailing Admin to explain, maybe they can help.
  • Did you change from a personal account to a business account? Or have you tried creating a separate account for business with PayPal? I have no idea if that's the issue, but thought I'd mention it - I have no idea with the laws are in Belgium for payment acceptance/processing for small businesses.
  • I was curious so did a bit of googling... you CAN push this and get your funds and get this resolved, but it definitely appears to take some work.

    I see over and over that these are automated algorithms and when humans at PayPal are reached, they don't see why the account was closed either. Reasons appear to possibly include:

    1. Having two accounts
    2. One of the IPs involved is linked to fraudulent activity (have you checked to see if your ID has been hacked recently?)
    3. Sending money to yourself from one account to another is an interesting read.

    On the plus side, every case I've read it appears people DO get their money after a polite fight, but I have yet to see anyone get their account reopened...? They tend to have to ecreate a new one, losing you your history. :-(

    Another read:

    Good luck!!!!!!!!
  • Is your account fully verified? That's pretty important in working with PayPal (just thinking out loud).

    One last thing, a particularly good read:

    These appear to be reasons per PayPal their algorithm will freeze an account or close it:

    You’ve received an abnormally large amount of money in your account that is way above your average
    Someone has filed a complaint to Paypal about your business
    A series of chargebacks have been placed against your account
    Your website has questionable content
    You are in violation of Paypal’s use policy. For example if you sell drugs or anything illegal, you may get banned
    Your account information is not up to date or your account is not fully verified
    Someone has logged into your Paypal account from a strange location.
    Your credit score is low or something with your background history makes you a higher risk customer
    They have detected fraudulent activity on your account.
  • @Hoddie: I'm not sure about emailing the Admin at this point, I think the rule is at least 10 transactions via Paypal before other payment options may become available. But even then, I think you still need to have Paypal as well. So I think I'm blocked there.

    @Calibrick: it was my first and only PayPal account, especially created for the purpose of using it here. Conform PayPal rules, it was/is a business account, as you are normally not allowed to use a personal account for online sales.
  • I am a buyer, not a seller on this site. But after 18 months of not being able to access my account I finally managed to talk to a real person, and closed my account, after more years than I care to remember. They didn't know why I couldn't use Pay Pal and didn't seem to care. It started out as a good idea, but there are too many problems now.
  • @Calibrick: yeah, I found the same links when googling...
    In their communication they seem to state I am forever banned from using PayPal. So creating a new account won't be a solution I'm afraid.
    From what I can see and know, none of the reasons you listed apply in my situation. I've argued the same to PayPal, but they hide behind 'algorithm says security risk, sorry we can't do anything'.
  • Wow. Sadly, this seems to line up with everything I saw too - which is just crazy to me.

    Hoddie had suggested Stripe, which I hear many talk about here (in a positive way)... talk to the BO admin. If you have performance from other marketplaces to kind of cement your credentials, take a screen shot of them and pass them to him. Perhaps he can make an exception to the PayPal rule for you in light of the well-known PayPal craziness?
  • First I want to at least wait until my buyer receives the package I sent today and (hopefully) gives me my first (good) feedback. Because right now, I have nothing...
    Unfortunately, I am not on other marketplaces for Lego, so I cannot prove I'm legit in that way either...
    If you google about this issue, you find lots of complaints about money being put on hold, but closing an account on its first transaction??? I keep telling myself it must be some kind of mistake but at PayPal they refuse to even look into it, because 'computer says no' (mandatory IT-crowd reference!)
  • It could be a VPN issue perhaps, you were using a VPN to stream US TV while living in, say, Denmark. That might be a red flag, claiming to live somewhere but IP says somewhere completely different.
  • I do indeed use VPN, but for all BrickOwl and PayPal related connections, it was always a VPN endpoint in my own country. But even if that was not the case, it should not be an issue if you handle some things related to your online store from another place than where you live.
    The only thing I can think of now, is that the IP address of my VPN has somehow been linked to fraud with PayPal at some point, and that that has tainted me as well. But I doubt that.
    Maybe it was something with not being 100% verified... even though I didn't get any emails from them saying I still had to complete something, and also, I would expect the configuration of the account, linking it to my store here, would not have worked okay.

    Meanwhile, my buyer received the package and was happy with it. Got a good feedback.

    Not sure where to go from here now though...
  • I would hazard a guess that it was indeed your use of a VPN. Such services are used for a wide variety of purposes and are often flagged as being used for illegal means. 1,000s of users making use of a single IP is bound to trigger some alert or other.

    If you haven't tried already, you could call PayPal and explain. I'm sure there'll be another way to set up a PayPal account and steadily change it to your preferred details. It might involve you getting a different bank account, not using your full name, using a different email address, etc. If it's their automatic systems that are blocking you, there must be a way to avoid that. If all else fails, you could speak to your local consumer authority, they may be able to intervene on your behalf.
  • @Hoddie: thank you, those are useful tips.
    But trying to circumvent a block by not using my full name or other email and bankaccount sounds like a sure-fire way to get blocked again if ever found out.
    I was considering invoking my 'delete me' right based on the European GDPR laws. But I don't trust PayPal at all to actually delete my data, I'm pretty sure they would keep me on a blacklist somewhere.

    I'll let it (and myself) cool down a few days...
    Then I'll think about what I should do next.
  • There are no guarantees where PayPal are concerned - I've heard horror stories about people losing thousands just because they decide to block an account and refuse to release the cash.

    Good luck.
  • Yeah, if you start googling them, you find one horrorstory after another... people where 20k dollars are blocked for 180 days, without getting any explanation. For me luckily it's only a tiny amount, but still, it is mine, not PayPal's, so I will keep bothering them until I get it ;-)

    The buyer has now also confirmed to PayPal that the transaction is complete and okay. Which led to an (automatic I guess) email from PayPal that the money has been released. But when logging in, I can't transfer it, some unknown error. Small steps...
  • Update: after another message exchange within PayPal earlier this week, it was again confirmed the decision was final. However, today, one week after they initiated the closure of my account, I get an email telling me they have reviewed the information I provided and that the limitation is now lifted and that I can use my account again.

    Color me skeptical at the very least... also happy that they reconsidered of course, as I didn't think this was still an option. However, this does not give me a lot of confidence in PayPal as a reliable payment provider.

    Before I reopen my store, I want some reassurance from them that everything is okay now, and that it will not be blocked again upon a second order in my store...
  • @Hoddie, I wish there a new very popular payment method that have no fees charges for amount less than £2 or £3 so sellers would not need to charge extra on the buyer on top of the shipping costs. I used to get lot of bank transfers in here and BL before and I just charge them the postage and very little for packaging. I find Bank transfer better for the buyer and myself as is win-win situation and can easily refund back without losing the fees by bank transfer again.
  • I recommend completing your verification with PayPal as it sounded as if you might not be fully there... I've always been 100% verified with them and have been fortunate enough to never have an issue of any kind, thousands of transactions in. That doesn't guarantee anything of course, but at least their algorithms then know for sure that a fully verified account and human are involved, which may tip algorithms into your favor.

    @Jiries, don't you build your fees into your sell costs? Then, in aggregate, sellers nearly always come out ahead. While you may lose a fee on a teeny order, larger orders more than make up for it.
  • Indeed Calibrick, one important step I hadn't done yet is linking a bank account to the PayPal account. That process is pending verification now. In my opinion that shouldn't have been the reason for the block, but who knows...
  • Trying to deal with PayPal is like dealing with a brick wall. Half the time they aren't even aware of what they themselves have done. They can't find their own cases, canned useless replies, etc.
  • Almost certainly down to use of VPN. When I go thru my VPN (CyberGhost) many websites block me, 100% of e-commerce sites do
  • @BelgiumBrickFloor I just had this same thing happen this week, and on my very first buy. After spending countless hours trying to figure out the situation with PayPal, it remains the same and they've permanently closed my account. In the beginning they kept saying it was due to user agreements (which were not violated) and then they kept stating it was due to "risky business", yet won't tell me what that may have been. It's beyond sad.
  • @Brick.babes : I feel for you, I know exactly how frustrating it is. But don't give up just yet. Provide them with plenty of documentation that you are legit, that the platform is legit, etc...
    I had received 2 official emails stating that the decision was final, nothing could be done, I could never again use the platform...
    But like I reported, one week after that, I got an email telling me my info was reviewed and my account was reinstated. So even though you get mails that sound very final, it can still turn around unexpectedly.

    My sales are still limited to that one time, because I closed my store for updating inventory since then. And I'm still counting and adding new stuff...
    I just hope that as soon as I reopen, I won't get the same trouble when a new sale is done, because there is so much time inbetween... my trust in paypal is quite low as I'm sure everyone can understand.
  • @BelgiumBrickFloor Is there a reason why you choose not to switch off the VPN for PayPal accessing ? Right now, with the situation in Eastern Europe, they may be taking an extremely hard stance about any IP address that cannot be firmly related to a country.

    Are you using the PayPal app or a web front end ? Having the app, combined with 2FA, might get them more assurance that you are where you say you are.

    Always ship orders with tracking. That will help to paint a picture that you are in residing in the country where the order shipped from.
  • @nita_rae I have already excluded brickowl and paypal from my VPN, just to be sure to give them no reason. But in my case it was the linked to the bankaccount not being fully verified. At least that's the working theory, because Paypal give zero explanation about blocking and unblocking accounts. In my eyes they are an unreliable platform to use for any business, and as soon as I can I will drop them. I will need to make 14 more sales first though, and before I can get there, I first need to count thousands of parts ;)
  • I have just had the same problem with PayPal.

    The first payment that came to me and they shut my account down.

    Yeah every year I spent thousands through PayPal.

    The only thing I cannot give PayPal is photo ID because I don’t have it I don’t drive so therefore don’t have a driving license and I don’t go Abroad so therefore I don’t have a passport.
  • @Neiljones

    Can't you get photo I'd without a DL? Over here we have to show photo I'd to buy alcohol, tobacco, enter some clubs, vote etc.
  • Photo ID isn't really a thing in the UK. Even driving licences didn't have a photo until about 20 years ago. It was not uncommon for some drivers to 'borrow' a licence from a relative or friend! You can buy various unofficial photo ID cards but they're not widely accepted as proof of ID. @Neiljones getting a passport or provisional driving licence may be your only options.
  • I don’t see why I should get a passport just to please PayPal. As for a driving license I am epileptic and therefore because of the number of fits I have I cannot get a driving license. And as government ID is not mandatory in this country which I don’t believe it should be I have no idea how to go forward
  • As for a driving license at does not need a photo if you have not moved and it is still valid to the address you live at.
  • > I don’t see why I should get a passport just to please PayPal

    Because PayPal is a company with certain rules. If you follow those rules, you can get along well with them. Your ability to make use of PayPal is not a right, it is a service that they make available to those willing to abide by their rules.
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